These are a few of the headlines that appeared following today's press conference at Disney II Elementary where members of Raise Your Hand witnessed Mayor Emanuel announcing a change in his plans from a 7.5 hour to a 7hour school day for elementary students in Chicago. The 7-hour day will include a 45-minute lunch/recess period, which RYH has been advocating for over the past year.
Indeed, the headlines are proof that the parent voice has been heard and that we are having an impact. Of course, we know that the headlines don't tell the full story. We know that time alone is not the answer that we have been seeking. We should acknowledge this small win, but we cannot and will not rest until the bigger picture of funding, staffing and programming are addressed. We must build on today's positive momentum and continue our efforts to ensure that CPS children get the quality education they deserve.
We are pleased to be working with a larger coalition of parent and community groups across the city, “Chicago Parents for Quality Education”. We have a tremendous amount of work to do. Given that our current 5h45 minute day lacks many basic standards that all children deserve, and the emphasis on standardized testing has taken the joy out of learning in many classrooms, we must continue to advocate for a better, richer more diverse curricula for the students of Chicago.
While there may be a small sense of satisfaction in the air today, let’s not forget that school budgets have not gone out yet and we do not know where our schools stand in terms of staffing and resources for next year. Let’s not forget that many thousands of children in Chicago have never had access to music or art education in their CPS school. Let’s not forget that our schools are short on social workers, basic supplies, technology equipment, adequate special education services and so much more. But let’s also recognize that as parents we can make a difference and our voices have been and will continue to be heard. We must continue to demand more from the people who make policies that impact our children’s lives.
Thank you for your hard work, your emails, your trips to Board meetings, the fierce advocacy you have shown over the past year.
Here is some good coverage on Chicago Tonight of RYH's position: